It’s no secret that I’ve a passion for chocolate after working as a marketing and PR director for a well known chocolate factory for a number of years. That position came to an end due to Covid and other reasons, yet my love for chocolate branding, promotion and storytelling remains. That’s why this chocolate gift guide is special as I’ve been checking out the best bean to bar chocolate brands on the block. I’m also no snob, so I’ve been researching what the more commercial chocolate companies are up to as well.
There are some incredible new bean to bar chocolate makers in the UK, along with new vegan chocolate brands, responsibly sourced cocoa chocolate products and some old favourites. Chocolate is becoming an incredibly competitive industry as enthusiastic entrepreneurs set up their ethical chocolate companies and deliver the chocolate the customer wants, natural, ethical and in recyclable packaging. Of course taste is a huge factor too.
I’m quietly convinced that my friends and I have tried every new chocolate brand this year along with new products from our favourites, so if you don’t see a chocolate company, we probably didn’t rate the taste or the ethos. We do however, sometimes miss a brand, so if you really love a bar and I haven’t included it, please do let me know on Twitter
PlayinChoc are an exciting new brand that have really caught my eye. I used to be the PR and Marketing Director of a well known chocolate company and really wish I’d been allowed to take the brand in this direction. From ethical toys within the boxes (which make great stocking fillers) to chocolate games for kids, tasting adventures and chocolate education to creating a responsibly sourced dark chocolate that is smooth and delicious and loved by children, the brand has it all. It’s incredible. The packaging is delightfully nostalgic, while it blends in perfectly on a Selfridge’s shelf while the chocolate is moreish and has a great story behind the source. This is one to watch, as I predict great things for this brand which is why it has won our Best New Brand Award.
To say I’m impressed by Farhi is an understatement. Delicious and decadent with an understanding of a mature pallet, these are chocolate gifts with a difference. The packaging is sublime with one, below, being a keepsake you’d easily have on display in your home. The dates (which I gave to my friend, bestselling author Alex Marwood) are a triumph. True indulgence, the way it should be. You won’t go wrong gifting these. Available in Selfridge’s they win our Top Product Award.
Montezuma’s have been on my radar for a while, not least because I’m acquainted with the founder. An incredible woman with a keen eye for detail, quality and taste. I love how far they’ve come and how they’re constantly moving the goalposts to provide better flavours, better designs, more widely accepted chocolate that still hits those taste buds and follows an ethical path. Their range is immense now, and their flavours diverse, they stand out with their branding and taste great too.
Another high quality chocolate that’s a taste sensation and favoured by the best chefs due to its ingredients and workability. Beautifully packaged, the chocolate drops are absolutely delicious and a pleasure to bake with while they can also be eaten straight out of the bag.
Loccoca’s founder claims to be the first bean to bar chocolate maker in London. I’m not sure if this is true but still the story is inspiring and the chocolate is tasty. Not as bright as the others in branding, more understated, but excited to see how this one grows. If I had any advice, from my years in chocolate branding, PR and marketing, I would say, that if the claims are true, of being the first bean to bar chocolate maker in London, REALLY shout about it. Also reconsider the packaging, as while it’s great that its recyclable it doesn’t really pop on a page, and the lettering is lost. If it doesn’t pop on a page, it’s unlikely it will attract attention on a shelf. I could go on, but this is a gift guide!
I fell in love with the Booja Booja truffles. I had no idea you could buy dark chocolate dusted truffles with such a gooey centre. Soft like a pillow, melt in the mouth, flavoursome treats that wrap you up in a cloud of cacao. The packaging is awesome and the menu, confusing at first, is inspired. I adore the truffle selection box and every flavour in it. Booja Booja, you rock!
These Love Raw bars are intriguing, as they taste just like the kinder snacks yet are completely vegan and made using raw chocolate. We loved them, great for anyone with allergies and a wonderful stocking filler.
More commercially produced it’s true but Lindt do provide some great stocking fillers every year and the chocolate is well loved across the UK. My eldest daughter collects the teddy bears and the reindeer and has a few plushies too. We do love Lindt and the teddy bear really made us smile this year, the cat, Ludo, is now wearing the bell.
Ritter Sport blew me away a few weeks ago when they delivered the BIGGEST box to my door. Surprisingly light, I opened it and a huge unicorn head flew out, weighted down with a bright pink and rainbow chocolate bar. The unicorn bar. I’d like to tell you it was delicious but I didn’t get a look in! The children ate it between them before I had chance to try. With a sparkly strawberry base and milk chocolate top I’m sure it was ultra tasty as I’ve bever known them to finish a full chocolate bar before!
Ritter Sport also have mini collections of chocolate this year which make great stocking fillers and have a flavour to suit every taste. They win our Best on a Budget Award!
Is it really Christmas without the Lily O’Brien’s dessert range? I especially love the crème brulee, the crack then the smooth vanilla centre followed by a creamy milk chocolate is heaven.
A great gift too for anyone who loves pudding and chocolate!
If you’re looking for a drink to pair with your chocolate, try our guide on the top ten gins.